Public Opinion: Innovation is Powerful, and Should Be Nurtured and Protected

According to Americans, innovation is a key part of what makes the country a world leader. In a public opinion poll of U.S. registered voters, conducted by Morning Consult, respondents shared perspectives on innovation and fostering new inventions. Three-fourths (76 percent) of those surveyed say America leads globally in its spirit of innovation and entrepreneurialism.

And, respondents want to ensure that spirit is nurtured. Two-thirds (66 percent) think it is very or extremely important to provide incentives for companies to develop new, innovative products and services. By far, respondents are most interested in more incentives for treatments and cures for life-threatening diseases and illnesses – at 83 percent – compared with other technologies like renewable energy (66 percent) or consumer electronics (29 percent).

Respondents see the private sector as leading the way for future innovation. Sixty-one percent support a system where the government provides incentives for private sector inventors to invest in research and development (R&D); only 20 percent support the government in leading R&D efforts. And, 59 percent want R&D incentives to increase for the private sector.

Those surveyed also recognize the importance of protecting innovation. In fact, three-fourths (73 percent) believe patent protection is important for the development of new, innovative products and services.

While it is promising that U.S. registered voters recognize the power of invention, the reality is we need to do more to ensure intellectual property (IP) rights are supported and protected. As the U.S. Trade Representative’s annual Special 301 report suggests, there are laws, policies and practices that are currently failing to provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement for IP rights. Protecting ideas and inventions is critical to ensuring continued innovation and the economic benefits that accompany it. It’s clear from the poll that Americans stand by this belief, but it’s also a mission shared by many countries around the world. By honoring and strengthening IP protections set for in international agreements, governments across the globe can stand up for their inventors and promote and enforce strong IP rights.